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Thu 18 Apr 2024

Runner Stories: Sarena Thakkar

One of the saddest aspects of Sarena’s job as a clinician is breaking the upsetting news to somebody, often sitting alongside their loved ones, they have cancer.

That’s why running the TCS London Marathon this Sunday for Tenovus Cancer Care is not only on her bucket list, but also close to her heart.

“Supporting patients and their families of all ages through a cancer diagnosis is so needed right now, and that’s where Tenovus Cancer Care comes in,” explains Sarena from Swansea.

 “As a clinician, I don’t always have the time or the resources, and so the work Tenovus does is vital.

 I see it all firsthand and that the best motivation for making the starting line this Sunday."

Sarena started running six years ago, just after turning 40, and hasn’t stopped since.

She says her role as a Physician Associate in Acute Medicine at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Rhondda Cynon Taff, is stressful and helps her keep both physically and mentally fit.

It wasn’t long after putting on her running shoes before she’d completed a half marathon, a remarkable achievement for Sarena who juggles longs distance running with her type 1 diabetes.

I didn’t want my diabetes to hold me back or stop me doing the things I love.

I want to show people with a chronic illness that you can still live your life, and that nothing can control you.

In fact, I was part of a group of runners that broke the world record for the most type 1s to run a half marathon in one go!

Sarena is running as a “community” with Llanelli based group Peak Performance Wales (PPW) who train together every week.

“We are a group of positive people in a supportive atmosphere.

Gary, who set up the group, has a great ethos. I’m not really someone who can be cooped up inside and I love being outdoors.

We run up mountains, and on beaches.  We’re all friends now.”

Managing diabetes whilst running long distances has been a massive learning curve for Sarena.

It’s been trial and error, all about finding ways that aren’t going to spike my blood sugars, and re-fuelling regularly before my blood sugar drops.

Gary’s been so supportive, and I think we’ve nailed it together.

Sarena ran her first ever full marathon - the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon – last May.

This Sunday she will take on the London Marathon 2024 with eleven other runners from PPW.

“It’s been challenging, but it’s not been a solo effort. We’ve all become very close, as a collective, because of the fundraising and the motivation.

Everyone has peaks and troughs in their training, and we help each other through.

The London Marathon has been on my bucket list for a long time. The fact I’m even making it to the start line is a dream come true.”

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010